Asset Orchestration is Required for more Dynamic Innovation

to orchestrate 5We all should recognize the incredible power of “orchestration” that is needed in innovation to bring the initial idea into a final successful commercial concept.

We have an ongoing need to create, extend and modify resources constantly and to achieve this we need to orchestrate and enable those resources to exploit and execute on our innovations.

We need to ‘asset orchestrate’.

One of our blind spots is perhaps the focus on pursuing and organizing around innovation just within an organization and not to be as aware of all that is externally going on around us.

There are continued and rapid shifts taking place outside the walls of our organizations, constantly occurring and changing, often it becomes a ‘race’ between spotting an opportunity and executing on it, before your competitors do, or the market further moves on and it becomes a lost opportunity to have exploited.

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Exploring the Value Of Your Innovation Capital

Innovation Capital

Following on from my last post of “Place your future bets- invest in Innovation Capital” which outlined the significant contribution innovation capital plays in our economic growth, let me offer some further thoughts on its value to really capture and understand, so we can measure it within our organizations.

We have the three components; of physical capital, knowledge capital and human capital that are the innovation-related assets, these make-up Innovation Capital.

I have been arguing that innovation capital draws from the core of intellectual capital and its suggested (and broadly recognized) components of human, structural and relational capitals or social capital. I have previously discussed this converging up, as the ‘nesting effect’

Innovation capital needs assessing and measuring so we can understand the relationship between this innovation capitals (and its present and future potential) and organization performance. We need to know the innovation capital ‘stock’.

Why, well ‘stock’ can be ‘static’ and we need to make this more ‘dynamic’ so innovation can ‘flow’ from this constant renewing of our capitals and be transformed into new value.

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Place Your Future Bets – Invest In Innovation Capital

Value of Innovation CapitalRecognizing the value of our innovation-related assets is where the ‘smart money’ should go. To gain growth and to improve productivity is through innovation. We need to translate knowledge into new values.

When you pause and consider the make-up of Innovation Capital you realize it makes such an economic contribution and  in a report from McKinsey & Co, they have set about identifying this to produce the above summary, covering 16 countries, to understand the real value of this Innovation Capital.

These numbers are big and still don’t fully capture everything associated with innovation as much remains ‘hidden’ or ‘attached’ to other activities as well.

We need to shift our thinking on what makes up Innovation Capital

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So what drives value creation?

Standing OutI seem to be reading a lot about the concept of value creation recently. It seems to have the same ‘heady vaulted position’ as innovation in that we all talk far more about the ‘promise’ of it. So what is behind value creation? What drives it? What will allow us to stand out as the place to invest in?

So what is value creation?

Value creation is highly dynamic, it is going on all the time and can increase, decrease or transform in different ways when you exploit your different capitals that will change and reflect your organization’s business activities and eventual outputs. This is when you can begin to see the value created by the use of deploying all the capitals.

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Are we measuring what really matters?

Time to adaptToday, it is the non-financial performance, made up of mostly the intangibles within organizations, that is accounting for upwards of 80% of present investors’ valuation of our organizations.

Yet do shareholders really have the knowledge to judge the real source of value creation inside our organizations? I think not but they should. Does Management actually?

We lack a real line of sight into the true value of our organizations.

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Innovation requires the nesting of all capital

Nested capitalsInnovation cannot exist without all the capitals that contribute to its make-up. Yet we simply fail to appreciate all the capitals that innovation requires. It is a real pity as they are truly nested.

Equally many innovators are simply not prepared to put in the necessary work to achieve this understanding and the organization’s innovation looses out, stuck in perpetual incremental mode, lacking in anything really new or radical.

All the capitals ‘fire’ innovation. They make innovation combustible.

More often than not when we talk within business of capital we tend to default to the financial kind. Of course providing the financial capital into innovation is vital; it provides the potential ‘burn’ but what is often understated and certainly under-appreciated is the other capitals. These have been ‘tagged’ under intellectual capital or are often ‘lumped’ into our intangible assets.

What we need is to recognize the real “nesting effect” all our capitals.

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Work to be done is innovation’s invisible hand

Back in 1776 Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations” discussed the concept of the ‘work to be done.’ This has fascinated me for what we need to do for achieving any new innovation, it is the ‘work to be done’ that generates and pushes boundaries beyond the existing.  This ‘classic’ book has become regarded as the one that described the birth of modern capitalism as well as economics.

Adam Smith also introduced the concept of ‘the Invisible Hand as a core part of his thesis, that man’s natural tendency toward self-interest – in modern terms, looking out for No.1 – results in prosperity, not just for the individual but for society.  ‘The invisible hand’ is essential for free markets and capitalism, through how it generates wealth in competition for scarce resources. By maximizing their own interest as the direct intention, this ‘invisible hand’ also stimulates those around you and in the society you belong. As you seek to leverage your own assets, you are promoting society as a whole. Today this can be more by design, or through an unintended consequence of how knowledge flows.

Arguably the ‘invisible hand’ can today be seen as realizing all our potential, individual and collective, exploiting all available existing assets for benefit and gain. We call these our tangible and intangible assets.  Often overlooked, or under-appreciated are those more intangible assets, that can significantly differentiate, are surely today’s ‘invisible hand?’

The make-up of intangible assets

There are many thoughts around what makes up our intangible assets but these can be summarized as made up of 1) human assets– the knowledge, skills, experiences, our abilities to organize these within our thinking, 2) structured capital as the pool of knowledge made up in our institutions, our rules, norms, knowledge diffusion across broad communities, 3) the social capital that forms today more around our networking that relies on infrastructure, access to knowledge, exchanges and relationships.

It is the ability to combine our tangibles with our intangible capitals that allows us to think and explore all that is around, to discover and exploit the potentials within this ‘work to be done’.

The volatile world we are dealing with today.

Today we seem to live in more volatile times where it becomes more important for us to focus on the work to be done is, not the work done. We have to keep focusing on the future. The ‘work done’ is the accumulated knowledge; the built up ‘stock’ that has contributed and been embodied in the organizations results to date, seen in the past where innovation has contributed in part to this. We have built up ‘know how’ and competencies in the ‘work done’ but this needs improving upon and challenging.

The ‘work to be done’ is where we push forward and explore greater possibilities. Part of this is focused on how we are going to adapt to change, to add more knowledge. For instance, we have operated in the past in far more of a mass production era, where systems could be designed for stable, more homogenized markets, where we could extract the maximum effectiveness and efficiencies. The ‘work done’ was equivalent to the ‘work to be done’ due to this predictability. This is not the case anymore, markets have fragmented, and we set about to design for the individual’s needs or in modular approaches for example.

We are in a ‘race’ to win

Today much has changed; we are faced with rapidly evolving technology diffusion. There is a race among nations and organizations to ‘win’ in global markets. This is causing increasing disruptive forces to come into play, where constant change is becoming more the norm and the emphasis has changed from ‘just’ efficiency and effectiveness but to be constantly adaptive, fluid and have increasing agility.

We focus far more on building in ‘tailored’ service, based on knowing the customers’ needs and understanding, on designing around new business models and in this, the ‘work to be done’ is becoming far more important than the ‘work done.’ It is the realization that it is the contribution of the intangibles assets, our growing intellectual capital, are becoming the real differentiation point to exploit the future potential.

The intangible assets provide the intellectual capital base, these allow us to react to changing demand for the required future value creation so we can effectively compete and sustain ourselves. This constant search for the ‘work to be done’ is fueling what has to be done.

Work to be done is the make-up of learning new skills, develop a greater dexterity and judgement based on what we need to ‘actively’ go out and seek. ‘Work to be done’ is searching for our future growth and well-being and this is derived through our future innovation activities. So much of this is made up of the intangible parts that can combine with what we know, what we have previously achieved, in work done, to provide the new wealth of organizations, as we participate more actively in the knowledge sharing economy of today and the near future.

We can’t remain islands of limited knowledge, we must seek out others to combine and achieve the work to be done. We are arguably in the network era, yet so many are failing to optimize their intangible assets and exploiting different organization dynamics that would greatly benefit their growth, especially when you operate with scarce resource.

Today’s need is for increasing interactions, linkages and seeking new knowledge to stay competitive in global markets.

As we rely increasingly on our growing ‘interactions and linkages’ we need a system to manage this. Absorptive capacity was introduced as an idea and first explored by Wesley Cohen and Daniel Levinthal in a 1990 article (“Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation”) and can provide us the knowledge learning path for building a real “knowledge exchange” process. Innovation ‘feeds off’ knowledge, they are inseparable, like twins, needing each other.

We can learn to exploit innovation, both in learning internally through the process of purposefully searching, doing and using what we gain and externally, by exploring new discoveries, collaborating, exchanging and generally interacting and so gaining fresh expertise, insight and knowledge.

As organizations seek increasingly outside their own walls, the appreciation of how they are managing knowledge, learning and interpreting this, is becoming a critical aspect of a more ‘open’ collaborative innovation to be successful. There is a growing need to absorb, integrate and apply this in new and novel ways for accelerating the innovation performance.  As we seek out more to compete in global markets, the more the knowledge increases in complexity we add more to the ‘work to be done’.

Markets are in constant flux, rapidly changing and we need to manage all the new insights. The more we are relying on knowledge flowing into the organization the more we have to strength our inter-dependence and collaboration efforts to extract the knowledge we are acquiring for it potential value. There is a consistent self-interest in doing this for our prosperity as well as others – the invisible hand.

Are organizations recognizing the value of structuring their knowledge flows?

This is the make-up of much of the work to be done in managing the knowledge flows. We need to recognize the importance of this shift from (physical) ‘work done’ to (intellectual) ‘work to be done’ and reconfigure the changing capabilities and capacities required, so as to grow our future ‘wealth’ of organizations, of nations and within ourselves to learn and respond. We needs to understand that today’s ‘ invisible hand’ is how our intangible assets are increasingly crucial and need to be actively managed, for this essential work to be done.

Forget ‘work done’, that’s in our past, it is already in the (knowledge) bank, we need to focus on the work that needs to be done so we can compete and thrive, there is so much more to understand and learn from as the challenges become more demanding to deliver on our innovation efforts.

There’s so much work to be done.

Our future progress is tied up in offering meaningful work, providing that sense of purpose. Building greater capabilities to quote Saul Kaplan “are the amino acids of innovation.  They are the building blocks that enable value delivery”. We are looking at increasing “the random capability collisions” where new innovation will happen at different intersections that combine knowledge from global markets, other competitors, different cultures and a variety of disciplines.

We need to build new capabilities that are far more market orientated, from co-creation and knowledge acquisition, from sense making, tapping into collective memories across a vast network of understanding. We need to unlearn, we need to reflect. All of these are in the ‘work to be done’ to stay ahead, be relevant and compete in today’s world. A world that is far, far different from the world seen by Adam Smith and what he saw needed doing.

The value in his observations are still valid today, the ‘invisible hand’ is as important today through our successful utilization of our intangible assets as we exploit new knowledge and apply this to innovating our future. One that combines our need with societies, not just based on growth but also on well-being as well. It is knowing the ‘work to be done’ that is so necessary for innovation and much of this remains hidden, waiting to be discovered.